Tim Faucett is no stranger to unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV, or drone) technology: his company APlus Mobile makes mobile computer units that manage robots and UAVs for clients like the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin. But when he looks to the future, he sees a world where it’s not just the military and government piloting UAVS, but you and me.
"There are going to be private drones, there’s going to be commercial drones," he told me on the phone. Indeed, the FAA estimates that there could be tens of thousands of unmanned aircrafts circling overhead by the end of this decade. "Everybody’s going to have access to a drone. And people are going to have good intentions with them, and people are going to have bad intentions with them."
Faucett prefers to arm himself against the ones with "bad intentions," and sees a business opening. A few weeks ago, his startup Domestic Drone Countermeasures filed its first of what he said would be nine patents for a system that will detect and disable drones before they have the chance to film their targets.
Because the technology is so new, Faucett’s conversations about it are shrouded in secrecy, including what it looks like, what the tech entails, or how it really works. He referred to a system that includes software and sensors that will be able to identify nearby UAVs based on their electromagnetic signature, alert the owner of the system, and then—the coup de grâce—the system will somehow "neutralize the drone’s capability to see you with its camera."
According to Faucett, "We don’t interfere with the drones navigation in any way. We don’t jam anything. We don’t intercept anything … This is non-combative. That’s really important." Faucett says that as word has gotten out about his company on the Internet, people have falsely described his services like some sort of militia weaponry. "We’ve taken great pains to design systems that aren’t going to get shut down or be outlawed or become illegal. … We’ve taken the combat elements out so [the former military technology] can’t be viewed as unlawful."
He says his system won’t even harm the camera. "The camera just won’t be able to look at you," he says. "Actually, at some point, we can show the operator at the other end a little movie or something," he adds, with a laugh. So try to spy on your neighbor with your new UAV and you might end up watching the "Single Ladies" video.
Faucett says his team of three full-time engineers and several part-time staffers should be able to bring the system to market in a matter of months. It’ll be scalable to suit the needs of someone who just wants their home protected—the 21st century version of a home security system—to larger property owners or institutional clients.